Monday, October 04, 2004

More on Krauthammer's February Speech

A comment on my previous post prompted me to say more about why I think Krauthammer's Irving Kristol lecture is required reading for the President's debate prep team. (Strange to have to remind them, since the Vice President introduced the speaker and a whole lot of them were in attendance.) The piece contrasts four schools of thought about how the United States could conduct itself as the only superpower: isolationism, liberal internationalism, realism, and democratic globalism. There are three reasons why I thought of this lecture as required reading for the Bush team:


  1. It provides arguments to criticize "Liberal Internationalism," the foreign policy of the Clinton Administration and the one, from what we can infer about Kerry, that he would likely follow as President. The value of this part of the lecture to the President's debate prep would have been to counter the alternative strategy of returning once again to the UN or waiting for the French and Germans to join the coalition. For example:

    "Rogue states are, by definition, impervious to moral suasion."

    "Of course it would be nice if we had more allies rather than fewer. It would also be nice to be able to fly. But when some nations are not with you on your enterprise, including them in your coalition is not a way to broaden it; it’s a way to abolish it."
  2. Later, in the part of his lecture where he discusses the elements of geopolitics that "Realism" gets right (and ultimately its unhopeful limitations), he provides the succinct statement of the problem of Iraq to which I referred in my earlier post and which (largely) answers the comment that I received:

    "Whether or not Iraq had large stockpiles of WMDs, the very fact that the United States overthrew a hostile regime that repeatedly refused to come clean on its weapons has had precisely this deterrent effect."

    To make his point, the President has to focus on Iraq's refusal to comply adequately with previous attempts to get its leadership to disarm. This was one of the things the President tried and failed to do rhetorically on Thursday.
  3. The entire section of the lecture on "Democratic Globalism" is relevant to providing a consistent statement of Bush's foreign policy in the Persian Gulf. Two particular passages caught my attention:

    "Call it democratic realism. And this is its axiom: We will support democracy everywhere, but we will commit blood and treasure only in places where there is a strategic necessity--meaning, places central to the larger war against the existential enemy, the enemy that poses a global mortal threat to freedom."

    "There is not a single, remotely plausible, alternative strategy for attacking the monster behind 9/11. It’s not Osama bin Laden; it is the cauldron of political oppression, religious intolerance, and social ruin in the Arab-Islamic world--oppression transmuted and deflected by regimes with no legitimacy into virulent, murderous anti-Americanism."
I think the last quote overstates it a bit (there is a whole lot of Osama bin Laden and his surrogates in this monster), but I think it is fair to say that the President's fortunes in the debate, evaluated as a debate, on Thursday would have risen had he made these points.

3 comments:

Roland Patrick said...

With all due respect, Bush wasn't debating to earn debating points. He was campaigning for votes. Kerry doesn't know what hit him. While Kerry was engaging in a one on one with Jim Lehrer--even calling him by his first name a couple of times--Bush was looking into the camera and connecting with the voters.

It worked. The Gallup poll in USA Today taken immediately after, while it said Kerry "won" the debate, also gave Bush every important "internal". People found him to be more likeable, more believable, more trustworthy, and stronger (by 17 points!).

The specific refutations of Kerry's arguments come later, in ads, and by the likes of Mark Steyn, who mercilessly eviscerated Kerry in his last column.

Oh, I too read Bradford every day. Religiously. Couldn't do it with out him.

Anonymous said...

Re the last paragraph, it is not obvious that Saddam's Iraq qualified as part of the "cauldron." Also, I can think of a number of plausible alternative ways to combat radical islamic terrorism, starting with using funds that were spent on this war to support educational institutions in Pakistan to compete with Saudi-funded madrassahs.

C. Davis

Hans said...

Instead of reading Krauthammer (here I go again) read ambassador James Dobbin's book (http://www.rand.org/publications/MR/MR1753/MR1753.sum.pdf). "Arrangements inKosovo, however, do seem to have provided the best amalgam todate of U.S. leadership, European participation, broad financialburden-sharing, and strong unity of command. Everyinternationalofficial in Kosovo works ultimately for either the NATO commander
or the Special Representative of the Secretary General. Neither ofthese is an American, but by virtue of the United States’ credibility inthe region and its influence in NATO and the UN Security Council,
the United States has been able to maintain a satisfactory leadershiprole while paying only 16 percent of the reconstruction costs andfielding only 16 percent of the peacekeeping troops.
The efficacy of the Kosovo and Bosnian models for managing a largescalenation-building operation depends heavily on the ability of theUnited States and its principal allies to attain a common vision of the
enterprise’s objectives and then to shape the response of the relevantinstitutions—principally NATO, the European Union, and the UN—to the agreed purposes." The book has to do with the real world which has very little in common with neocon's one.